TMJ stands for temporal-mandibular joint, and refers to the jaw joint which is located near the ear. TMJ pain gets worse around times of stress when there is more tendency to clench and grind, and may be more noticeable first thing in the morning.
TMJ pain may be caused by trauma or a bad bite. These place strain on the joint and creates muscle tension and pain. Clenching and grinding makes the problem worse.
Patients who experience some of the above symptoms that are not getting better should come in for an exam. Initially, a bite splint is made to separate the teeth and allow the joints to align into their natural position to relax the muscles. Several adjustments to the splint may be necessary to allow the muscles to relax and to relieve the symptoms. After splint therapy is completed, the bite may need to be adjusted or restored to this relaxed joint position. Some cases require that physical therapy be done in conjunction with splint therapy. Serious cases may require referral to a TMJ specialist.